The Leica 90mm Elmar C

MONTERREY — I have shot tightly framed portraits of people since I began taking photos at age ten or eleven.  A certain style of naturalistic headshot, the subject fully aware and looking straight into the lens, has been a major element of my work for my entire photographic life.  I still have almost every negative I ever shot and though I hope I have learned a thing or two along the way, I am still rather happy with many of the portraits I took of my classmates, teachers, and family back in Junior High and High School.  

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The Leica CL, Would Oskar Be Proud? Part 1


Every year millions flock to comic stores all over the country for an event called Free Comic Day. During this event parents and kids of all ages can get offerings from their favorite publishers for free. Special comics produced just for this event. Sometimes leading to major events, and sometimes a self-contained story just for this issue. And every year there are fans who go all out, dressing as Batman or the Ghostbusters and driving from shop to shop taking photos with kids and sometimes even the parents. This year while photographing the event for Worlds Greatest Comics in Westerville Ohio, I brought along the Leica CL and the L-Mount 23mm ƒ2 Summicron lens. FCD is a packed event, where comic shops are full, wall to wall of people of all sizes and ages. This was a great high energy event to test out the compact APS-C system from Leica….

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Jeep Jamboree at Badlands Offroad Park 2018 Update: Day 1

It’s been a great first day and I’m about to collapse into a coma for the next 6 hours, so forgive me for being brief! Continue reading “Jeep Jamboree at Badlands Offroad Park 2018 Update: Day 1”

The Field Photographer Summer of SWAG Kicks off June 15th!

We have a YUGE Summer planned for you, giving away tons of amazing prizes building up to your chance to get your hands on a mint Leica M4 with Leica 50mm Summicron ƒ2!  Continue reading “The Field Photographer Summer of SWAG Kicks off June 15th!”

The Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Super-Heliar V1

Sometimes you should listen to the voices in your head and sometimes you shouldn’t. Do not run with scissors in traffic. Do not befriend Nigerian royalty. Do not shave your head and climb that bell-tower. But if the voices are telling you to hang onto a particular lens, that someday you’ll figure out what it’s good for, and that someday you’ll figure out how to use it correctly, then listen.  Continue reading “The Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Super-Heliar V1”

Print Your Photos (Probably a better title out there)

You shot your rolls of film, developed them or had them developed. You looked at the prints (or jewel-like slides)– the only way to look at your photos unless they were published — and decided which ones you liked. When you were learning photography you looked at the negatives and picked one. You held those little frames to the light or looked at them through a loupe over a light table. You made contact sheets and looked at those through a magnifying glass, at tiny windows into the worlds of your own past. They were full of mystery, tiny little scenes that you had chosen, burned into silver halide, glowing frames of silvery greys and blacks, the direct opposite of what you had seen. It was up to you to think about them, think about what you wanted. Then you had to turn the lights off, turn on the red light, fit that chosen frame into a holder, fit it into a larger frame, make decisions and then commit to it. You held your breath and pushed the button and the light came on, changing the photo paper invisibly, immediately, and forever. You took that piece of paper and slipped it beneath the developer. Again you held your breath, waiting, wondering. Would it come in a rush of overexposed blacks or a tentative, underexposed outline of whites and greys? Or had you calculated correctly when you committed light to the paper as you had when you opened the camera’s shutter to expose the film.  Continue reading “Print Your Photos (Probably a better title out there)”

The Ona Bowery Leica Bag

Bag shown with optional Leica M, Photo A. Tonn

I received the good news that Leica was fixing my Monochrome’s shutter, replacing the sensor glass, and giving the thing a general tune up.  The additional good news was that it would all be free.  The bad news was they estimated the repairs would take 18 to 20 weeks (and this 8 weeks after sending it in).  Regardless, this gave me the green light to buy a bag for my Monochrome.  I believe that every camera/camera system needs its own shoulder bag home suited to the way I use that camera.  Every camera has an infrastructure that needs to be contained and organized along with items of more general utility that live in camera bags.  If you use more than one type of camera and constantly swap cameras in and out of bags, then very soon you’ll find yourself trying to put a Nikon battery into a Leica or attach an M lens to an F mount or find yourself without a flashlight or pen at some critical moment.  Continue reading “The Ona Bowery Leica Bag”

The 50mm f/2 Zeiss Planar ZM

Highway heading into a storm on the Navajo Reservation, Northern Arizona, Leica M-P 240, Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar ZM – Photo © Andrew Tonn 

When I bought a digital Leica I wanted a new lens to go with it.  There was no question that this lens would be 50mm.  I use other focal lengths (and have nothing against buying used optics) but, in this case, I wanted a new lens for the new camera.  When I bought a Leica M6ttl in 2001, I briefly used an antique 50mm f/2 Summar, but was soon able to acquire well-used 50mm f/2 Summicron from the 1970s.  I bought the Summar for $150 from an acquaintance and the second hand Summicron for $500 at the now sadly deceased F-Stop Camera in Akron, Ohio.  That lens has served me well but, when I decided to buy the digital M-P 240, the Summicron was in for repairs.  Anyway, I wanted a new lens for my new Leica and the M6 would be lonely and jealous if I confiscated its friend Summicron.  I like to maintain harmony in my stable of cameras after all. Continue reading “The 50mm f/2 Zeiss Planar ZM”

The Leica SL: The Best Worst Mirrorless Camera Ever?

In the mirrorless camera world smaller, lighter and packed with buttons is the trend. But with their pro end mirrorless camera, the SL, Leica decided to provide fewer buttons and go bigger and heavier than any other mirrorless camera in the 35mm format on the market. Milled from a solid block of aluminum, featuring as few buttons as possible with no labeling on any of them and an awkward power switch, the Leica SL seems to kick to the curb any feature commonplace or desired in a mirrorless system, with one exception. The EVF. DSLR users flock to Sony or Fuji for a smaller lighter system that is packed with features but doesn’t force them to make huge compromises in quality.

Some users regret the move and some users are quite happy, but one thing they all agree on is lighter is better and they love the EVF. I even made the jump from DSLR to mirrorless in part to cut weight. So why do I now find myself using the absolute heaviest mirrorless 35mm format option out there? Because of the EVF.

More on that in a moment, lets first take a broader look at the Leica SL…

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5 Days In Kathmandu

Leica M Monochrome, 15mm f/4.5 Voigtlander Super Heliar, Temple steps, Durbar Square (Photo by Andrew Tonn ©

There were times when our two years in Mumbai seemed an eternity.  I knew the time would pass quickly, however, that every day, strange as it was, would crossfade into the next and that sooner, rather than later, we would be headed back to the airport, boarding a flight out, and that everything undone would most likely stay undone.

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